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LGA to support Healthwatch work with children and young people

The Local Government Association (LGA) is developing plans to help local Healthwatch organisations to engage with children and young people when they launch next year.

The body is working with the Department of Health (DH) to establish how Healthwatches in every local authority can make sure the opinions of children and young people are taken into account when they begin to consult the public on how health and social care services are provided.

The LGA has already published a briefing that advises local authorities on how to engage with young people when setting up the bodies, but this work will see the LGA offering support beyond April 2013.

“The LGA is working with DH to begin to scope a support offer to local authorities and local Healthwatches,” said Lorraine Denoris, programme director for Healthwatch at the LGA.

“We’re looking at the possibility of exploring ongoing support, of which children and young people is likely to be a significant part.”

Denoris stressed the plans were not finalised and would require further planning and ministerial budget approval before they could be confirmed.

But she said the LGA envisions working in partnership with youth sector organisations that have experience in engaging with children and young people.

“If we get to that point in April, it would certainly be our modus operandi to work with, as we have done in the publication of the briefing, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and other organisations who have expertise in this area,” said Denoris.

“We’ll be practicing what we preach – working with partners that understand this particular client group.”

In May this year, NCB published a review of children and young people’s experience of health services that highlighted how provision could be improved to better meet the needs of its younger users.